Durham, North Carolina — A group of Ukrainians living and working in Durham are now hoping to raise funds to help families at war with Russia. They hope to do it the same way they make a living – teaching dance students.
The owner and instructors of Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Durham bring their expertise to students young and old across the Triangle region. These days, they dance but with a heavy heart.
“It’s very difficult because you’re too far away and all you can do is read the news,” Serhiy Titaremko said. His family lives in central Ukraine, for now, a place relatively safe from five days of Russian bombings.
Titaremko and her dance studio colleagues are always a phone call away from their families.
“We call them every hour and just wait for the end of the war,” said studio owner Yuri Simokov.
Simokov recruited all of his instructors from Ukraine. They are prouder than ever of their country and their president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Vitalii Sdarikov said: “Before the war, I was not a fan of Mr. Zelensky. He has shown himself these days as a strong and powerful leader. I respect that and yes, it is uplifting.”
Teaching dance is their job, but now it’s also a way to help their country. On the night of March 1, they invited students and visitors for $50 dance lessons, 100% of which will go to help families living in fear in their home country of battle-scarred Ukraine.
Simokov declared his feelings while choking back tears.
“Of course I’m proud to be Ukrainian,” he said.